Phichit's first few days in America are exciting, but a bit rougher than he expected.
He's used to traveling by now, and his English isn't that bad, but it's one thing to be in a place for a few days, and another to have to figure out how to live there, and it's one thing to speak English for the length of a conversation or an interview, and another to speak it all day every day.
By the end of each day, he's exhausted. There's shopping for his apartment, and figuring out how to get around, and getting in touch with everyone he needs to. He's not used to being this tired when he's barely had any time to skate. More than once, he collapses into bed without even getting dinner, because it's late and he's sleepy and his brain is too worn out to figure out how to order food in English.
When the initial rush passes, things get better, but there's still the getting used to his new coach, and getting used to America, and getting used to his new apartment. He has a roommate, but it's been so busy that he's hardly talked with him. His roommate is quiet, too, and has hardly said anything to him, either.
Yuuri Katsuki, from Japan. Phichit looks him up after the first week, when his roommate, on the other side of the room, is either asleep or wants to be thought so, his earbuds in and back turned towards Phichit. He's pretty good – not quite top-tier, or at least not yet, but then, neither is Phichit. That's what they came here for. Maybe they can get there together; that would be fun. He tracks down a couple of routines to watch before his eyes become insistent on closing and letting him get some sleep, and at least in the videos, the one interview he watches, the guy looks shy, so Phichit resolves to have a proper conversation with him tomorrow.
Tomorrow, he comes home wondering if there's any place in the city to buy proper cooking supplies – he doesn't know how to cook American food and the ingredients in the stores here look so different – and hears a quiet sound from the bedroom. Maybe Yuuri will eat with him. Talking over food is the best way to start a conversation, isn't it? He's had Japanese before if that's what Yuuri wants, it isn't bad....
He pops his head into the dark bedroom, intending to extend the invite, but it dies on his tongue. The soft sound wasn't shuffling; it was crying. Yuuri jerks his head up at the sudden intrusion of light from the main room, tears thick on his cheeks.
They stare at each other for a moment. "I'm sorry!" Yuuri blurts before Phichit can get an apology out. He wipes furiously at his face with his sleeves.
"Ah – no, um, I'm sorry." There has to be something better to wipe his face with – but he hasn't thought to buy tissues, and it looks like Yuuri hasn't either. He turns to the bathroom instead and pulls the nearest washcloth off the rack without turning the light on. He dampens it and hastily takes it back to Yuuri, who's still scrubbing at his cheeks. "Here, this is better."
Yuuri glances up at him with red eyes, his glasses knocked askew, and slowly reaches out to take the washcloth. "Thanks," he murmurs. "Sorry."
"No, it's okay," Phichit says as Yuuri sets his glasses aside and wipes the tear tracks off his face. He hops up on the bed next to him and peers over, though with Yuuri half in and half out of the sliver of light coming in from the door, it's not like he can see much. "Are you okay?" It's hard to tell what to do with a crying person he barely knows; if it was one of his younger brothers, he'd wrap an arm around his shoulders.
"It's nothing," Yuuri says into the washcloth. He keeps his face pressed into it for a few moments more before slowly lifting it away and starting to fold the cloth, not looking at Phichit. "I'm just homesick."
"You too?" Phichit tries for a small smile, but Yuuri still isn't looking at him. "America's pretty far from both Thailand and Japan. My parents made me promise to call home whenever I could, but it's not the same."
"Yeah," Yuuri says, fingers absently smoothing down the washcloth. He looks up at him, then, just a glance. Then he mutters something that Phichit doesn't quite catch, but he hears the word 'dog' and seizes upon it.
"You have a dog? Do you have pictures?"
That, finally, gets them talking. As they scroll through pictures of Yuuri's (fluffy, adorable) dog, Yuuri points out his older sister in the background of one shot, which lets Phichit talk about his own sister and two younger brothers, which leads, somehow, to them talking about the food back in their home countries, which reminds Phichit that it's dinner time and he hasn't even eaten yet.
Neither has Yuuri, but his English turns out to be better than Phichit's, at least when it comes to deciphering menus and figuring out how to order delivery by phone. By the time dinner is over (Chinese, but not like any Chinese Phichit has ever had, and not that great, but it is food), Yuuri is almost smiling.
It's good to have Yuuri as a roommate. He doesn't fuss a lot, he cleans up after himself, and he can cook. He lets Phichit keep hamsters and even plays with them a little sometimes, when Phichit shuts the door, checks the room for dangers, and lets them out of their cage for a while. More importantly, he rarely objects to going out to explore the city with Phichit when they have time. They complain about the cold weather together and Yuuri patiently helps him buy a better coat. Yuuri offers to make curry one evening, at which point they find out that Thai curry and Japanese curry are not really the same thing.
"It's so thick!" Phichit marvels as he spoons it over the fluffy rice. It tastes different, too, sweet and mild. It's still good, and he promises to show Yuuri what Thai curry is like soon. They end up with a lot of leftovers to get through first, which is handy when they only have the energy to scoop out rice from the cooker and microwave a container for dinner.
And as a rinkmate, Yuuri is, unquestionably, good. He can dance beautifully and he can pull off jumps that Phichit still only dreams of. And he says nice things about Phichit's own skating without needing a pile of compliments in return. It's exactly the kind of competition that Phichit has been craving, and he swears he can feel himself improving almost day-by-day under Ciao Ciao's coaching.
When event season bears down on them, he's eager to show off the new skills he's already acquiring. He can't quite understand why Yuuri doesn't seem to feel the same.
"Don't you want to show everyone how you've gotten better here?" he asks while helping Yuuri pack for his first competition.
"But if I don't do well, they'll wonder what the point was of my coming to America, instead of just staying in Japan," Yuuri says, concentrating very hard on getting the contents of suitcase arranged so it actually closes properly instead of straining at the zipper.
"Yuuri, you'll do fine," Phichit says with a laugh, leaning back on his heels. "I've seen you in practice!"
Phichit reaches over and gently shakes his shoulder. "If you win, we can make that, um, kachudon?"
"Katsudon," Yuuri corrects absently. He finally closes the suitcase and zips it firmly closed with a sigh. "Then, if you win yours, what do you want to eat?"
"Me? Hm...." It's a tough question, and he has to ponder it for a while. After all, there's a lot of foods he misses from back home – there's some he can make, now that he and Yuuri have found an Asian grocery, but his versions don't always come out quite the same, he needs to pester for recipes next time he calls his parents – and he finally narrows it down to one that he hasn't had since he left Thailand, though he knows he's seen a place that sells them here: "Crepes!"
"Crepes would be nice," Yuuri says, with a smile that is a touch wistful.
Yuuri does fine at his first event. Phichit does great at his; he feels like he's flying through his routines. He gets third, not first, but Yuuri still welcomes him back to the apartment with crepes, slightly burnt and torn and delicious stuffed with jam and fruit. Their next event is the same one, and it's held in Japan. Phichit already can't wait. "Yuuri, you'll show me around, won't you?" he asks between bites of crepe.
"Ah, well, it's not the area where I'm from, but I can try."
When they get to Japan, they spend the first night eating curry and wandering around some local shrines and a temple. There's something to how Yuuri looks speaking Japanese that makes Phichit jealous – there aren't major skating competitions in Thailand, so who knows when he'll next be able to visit?
He pushes it aside and focuses on the scenery and taking pictures – Japan is so pretty, and Yuuri is so easy to pull into shot – until they get back to the hotel and he can take advantage of the timezone to call his sister. She complains to him about her boss and the tourists like she always does; it's just as comforting as hearing her finish up by telling him to do well.
It doesn't quite go like that. Phichit skates just fine, but two of the other skaters have technical scores he can't match yet. Yuuri should have been able to catch up to them, at least, but he falls near the end of his short program.
Ciao Ciao tells he can make it up in the free skate. Phichit tells him that he can totally do it. Instead, he crashes to the point where Phichit can barely stand to watch his program, ending up with a disastrous score, a last-place finish, and probably a whole host of new bruises.
Yuuri steps off the ice looking about to either faint or cry. Phichit wraps an arm around him for a moment as Ciao Ciao just gives him this look – somewhere between angry and worried – but then he has to go and skate his own program.
He firmly tells himself that he can't let Yuuri's performance shake him, no matter how bad he feels for his friend, and he launches into the familiar dance of his homeland as the music starts. The music and the movements carry him into a performance that earns him bronze again. He gets caught up in the thrill of it, bouncing with joy at seeing his scores and posting a selfie taken with a proud-looking Ciao Ciao.
Later, after all the pictures have been taken and the fuss is starting to die down, Phichit looks around and realizes that he can't find Yuuri. Their coach hasn't seen him, either, and he doesn't answer his phone.
After combing what feels like half the arena, Phichit finds him hiding in a far-flung bathroom. "Yuuri," he says, at first reproachful, but it slips when Yuuri looks towards him, away from the mirror and the sink he's clutching so hard, and his eyes are red. "Yuuri?" Phichit steps forward and lets the door swing fully closed behind him.
Yuuri bursts into a fresh round of tears. Phichit rushes to him and pulls him into a hug on reflex; Yuuri doesn't resist, balling his hands in the front of Phichit's jacket and, if anything, crying harder.
They stand there for forever, Yuri sobbing into his shoulder, Phichit rubbing Yuuri's back. Thankfully, this place must be remote, because nobody else comes in. Slowly, slowly, Yuuri's sobs even out, then soften into something like normal breathing, and the tremble Phichit can feel against his hand fades away. "What's wrong?" Phichit asks when it seems like Yuuri's stopped crying. A thousand scenarios have flit through his head while he waited, quiet – Yuuri doesn't seem like he's that sore of a loser, but maybe he is, he did seem disappointed after he came back last time, or maybe he got a call saying that his mom was in the hospital or something like that –
"Sorry," Yuuri says, pulling away from Phichit's shoulder, but not out the embrace. His glasses are askew and so covered in tears that they must be useless, and his face is a mess. "I should be congratulating you, not...."
"Did something happen?" he asks, and Yuuri's lips purse.
"I always get nervous at competitions." Yuuri's voice is hoarse, and Phichit glances at the sink, wondering if he should get Yuuri to drink some even though it probably tastes off, coming from a public bathroom tap. "It's bad enough losing, but to lose so badly here, just after I went away, and Minako-sensei came all the way to see me, and everyone back home was probably...." His hands tighten in Phichit's jacket, before they loosen, quite consciously.
Phichit tries to imagine it – imagines skating in Bangkok for the first time in a long while, his family in the stands perhaps, just after he made a big deal of leaving to improve himself in America, and then screwing up as badly as Yuuri did today. He winces at the thought. "Come on," he says, gently tugging Yuuri toward the sinks. "It's over, right? Wash up and we can go find Ciao Ciao and leave."
He texts their coach while Yuuri splashes water on his face a few more times than is probably necessary. He tries to cheer Yuuri up as they find their way back – "I'm sure it's not as bad as you think! You said your parents don't know a lot about skating, but they support you, right? They're probably proud to just see you at a competition like this. They're not going to be mad at you." Yuuri makes the occasional jerky nodding motion, but otherwise doesn't reply.
When they meet back up with Ciao Ciao, he scolds Yuuri, but only a little, and then mutters something about working on mental fortitude before letting them go.
Phichit would have been happy to let Yuuri go sleep it off in his hotel room, but he insists that he's fine to get dinner. They get ice cream afterward, too, green tea for Yuuri and black sesame for Phichit, who's curious to know what it tastes like. (Black sesame, oddly enough. It's good.)
The thing is, Phichit finds out later, when Yuuri doesn't choke, he can do as well, or even better, than he can in practice. His performance scores are good, and with Ciao Ciao's help his technical skills are getting better as well – on those days, it's hard for Phichit to catch up. But when he fails it seems he fails hard, and it's not the last time that Phichit sees him cry after an event – sometimes right after, and sometimes not until they've collapsed in their apartment back in Detroit.
He doesn't know how to fix it, and after a while he starts to get the feeling that Ciao Ciao doesn't either. It's sad – because Yuuri is his friend, of course, and he feels bad seeing Yuuri so upset, but also, on the selfish level all athletes have to have, Phichit doesn't want to win over Yuuri just because Yuuri's falling apart over some screw-up; he wants to beat him properly, when they're both able to do their best. It does happen, but far too rarely.
Still, until someone figures out how to keep Yuuri from having meltdowns over stress, Phichit tries to be there for him when he has one.
Phichit gets the news as a notification while he's on the way back from practice. As soon as he hears the little ding, he pulls his phone out, before bursting into a grin and rushing home even faster once he reads it. "Yuuri!" he shouts as the door bangs open. "Yuuri, did you hear yet?"
Yuuri appears in the short hall to the bedroom, almost jumping from foot-to-foot, his phone held up to his ear. He tucks himself against it for a moment, both hands pressing it to his head, and says something in Japanese – from the context and what words Phichit has picked up, he's saying something like I'll call you back later.
Yuuri's face when he lowers the phone is happy and shining and excited. He laughs when Phichit steps over to give him a hug and squeezes back. "I can't believe it, I'm really going!"
"Your dream is finally going to come true! You get to skate on the same ice as Victor! I'm so jealous, you have to take lots of pictures, okay? At least send them to me if you won't post them on Instagram."
Yuuri shakes his head as they pull away from each other. "Next year, you'll be there yourself, and you can take all the photos you want. They'd turn out better, anyway."
"I know," Phichit sighs, visions of what could be next year already flitting through his head. He is sure he can do it, too, he just has to skate a little more cleanly, then throw his whole soul into the performance, and next year, he and Yuuri will be cheering each other on at the GPF.
But that's for next year, and not this year, not tonight; tonight is for celebrating. Phichit drags Yuuri into the kitchen, but they quickly decide that this calls for a dinner that they don't have to make themselves, so they go out to a place that's just beyond their usual price range. "Who else is going to be there?" Phichit asks as they wait for their food. "Victor, of course, and Chris, and you, and..."
"Um," Yuuri says, fumbling for his phone. "Michele Crispino, and Cao Bin, and...."
Of course, Phichit has already whipped out his own phone to check. "And that Canadian guy. Wow, this is going to be tough." He remembers Yuuri's nerves problem just as he says the words, and hastens to add, "But if you skate like you usually do, you could definitely get bronze, at least!"
But Yuuri is smiling, his cheeks flushed pink. "Yeah," he breathes. "I could be there next to Victor."
They manage not to talk about Victor for the rest of dinner, thankfully – when Yuuri gets going on the subject of his idol, Phichit has seen him literally prattle on for an hour, he gets so excited – and stick to everything else they could possibly say about the GPF. They chat through dessert, and on the way home, Phichit persuades Yuuri to let him drag them into a liquor store and pick up alcohol for a proper celebration. Not that they need it, but he likes seeing Yuuri like this, bright and buoyed, and Yuuri is so confident and fun when he gets some drink in him.
They end up curled together on Phichit's bed, watching skating videos while leaning against the wall with a blanket draped over their legs and steadily working their way through the alcohol. They laugh at Chris's overdone fanservice – not as bad this year as last year, to be fair – and wonder aloud at how Cao can be so good and yet so unremarkable, almost forgettable, at the same time.
And, of course, they watch every single performance Victor has put on this year. Phichit may not be as big a fan of him as Yuuri is – that would be hard – but it's almost impossible to find a skater, male or female, pro or not, who isn't at least a little in awe of Victor. Something about his dancing this year doesn't quite attract Phichit's interest, but his form is just as beautiful, and the power and control he throws into his jumps and spins is still fantastic after all these years.
Yuuri giggles into his shoulder when they reach a video where Victor – the great, unassailable, god-of-skating Victor – steps out of his famous quad flip. "Almost perfect," he says.
"I guess even he has to have off days," Phichit says. The difference between him and everyone else being that Victor on an off day still gets bronze at worst, depending on who he's competing against.
Yuuri looks over toward his bed – or rather, the poster of Victor that hangs on the wall beside his bed, just visible in the light from the phone. From the way he talks about the guy, Phichit is impressed by his restraint in sticking to the one. Maybe he hoards the rest in a box somewhere. Then he turns his head back to Phichit's shoulder, and a moment later there's a dampness to the fabric that wasn't there before. "I can't believe I'm going to the GPF," he whispers.
Phichit pauses the video he had queued up and adjusts his position to slip an arm around Yuuri, pats his head a couple of times. "Ganba, okay?"
He can feel the smile pressed into his shirt. "Kòp kun."
Despite the chill outside, in their apartment, under the blankets, it's warm, and between that and the infectious excitement from Yuuri and the alcohol, Phichit feels a little like he's floating. The two of them end up staying up way too late, but it's worth the exhaustion the next day.
Yuuri, as he does, chokes, and he chokes hard. "Oh, no," Phichit whispers to himself, watching Yuuri struggle through the end of his short program during a break from his own practice. He texts him some encouraging comments before he gets back to work, but they've never worked before.
After the utter disaster that is Yuuri's free skate, he doesn't bother trying to call or text him at all, much as he would like to say something nice. He knows that Yuuri will have turned his phone off, so there's no point.
A couple of days later, he wakes up at three in the morning to the front door rattling. He scuffles about for his slippers for a few moments, then shuffles down the hall in time to see Yuuri manage to get the door open. Phichit shivers in the sudden gust of freezing air. Yuuri doesn't even look at him, just pulls his suitcase in behind him and locks the door, then takes his time taking off his outerwear.
"Yuuri?" he asks when Yuuri manages to undo his coat and then folds it and just stares at it like he can't remember where it goes. The coat nook is right there next to him. "You must be tired, come inside," he says, and Yuuri, after slowly putting his coat on top of his suitcase, does.
He looks awful. His hair is a mess, his glasses are smudged, his face is pale except for where it's shadowed under his eyes, and on top of all of that he has the exhausted, dried-out look of someone who has spent twelve hours on a plane.
In the bedroom, Phichit can't help but hover, worried, as Yuuri takes off his glasses and sets them carefully on his bedside table, and he gets even more worried when Yuuri then turns around and crawls onto Phichit's bed. "Yuuri?" he asks again as he sits next to him, arms already open.
Yuuri collapses against him, a quiet, high-pitched keen turning into a sob that shakes his entire body. Phichit holds him tight and waits for the tears to subside, but as time goes on and Yuuri's crying doesn't abate at all – if anything, he's shaking even harder – he starts to get concerned. He's seen Yuuri cry after competitions many times by now, and it was the GPF, but... did he screw up his first real chance to talk with Victor, too? Did something else happen that Phichit hasn't heard of?
When another few minutes slide past and Yuuri still hasn't slowed down at all, Phichit adjusts his arms and shifts their position – his foot is starting to go dead – before asking, "Yuuri, what's wrong?"
It takes a minute for him to answer, one hand clenching in Phichit's pajamas and letting go, then finding its way back. Phichit doesn't rush him. "Vicchan," Yuuri finally chokes out between gasps. "He, I wasn't there, I couldn't, and he... my mom called right after I landed, Vicchan, he's gone."
"What?" Phichit makes a sympathetic sound. Phichit's never met his dog, but even with an ocean separating them, he knows how Yuuri loves Vicchan. Phichit has seen a number of pictures sent by Yuuri's older sister, and he's heard the name mentioned on nearly all of the infrequent calls home that he's overheard. "No wonder you looked so upset. That's horrible. I'm so sorry, Yuuri."
Yuuri manages to bury his head even further into Phichit's shirt."A-and," he continues, "I met, I saw him, after... and he didn't... he thought I was a fan, I wasn't... he didn't even see me as a skater. He asked if I wanted a commemorative selfie...."
Damn. A hot flash of irritation and anger passes through Phichit. Sure, Yuuri looks different without his glasses, but Victor has such a reputation for being nice to his fans and his fellow skaters, shouldn't he be able to recognize someone who just skated in the same event as him?
"Then Celestino dragged me to the banquet," says Yuuri, his voice rushing out too fast, "and it was horrible, I couldn't talk to anyone, I just kept drinking until he let me go back because I couldn't...." He loses steam and turns his head back into Phichit's shoulder as he chokes on another sob.
Phichit had thought talking it out might help, but it turns out that it doesn't. Yuuri repeats himself a couple of times, occasionally whimpers something new, but mostly he just cries and cries. In the end, he doesn't so much calm down as seem to cry himself into exhaustion, dead weight in Phichit's arms. Eventually, their position is too much for his back, and when he shifts again, Yuuri pulls himself back, sniffling and still trembling lightly.
"Thanks," he mumbles. "I – kind of feel better now. I guess."
"You're welcome," Phichit says, quiet.
Yuuri goes away for a few minutes to clean up and finish dragging his stuff in, and then he curls up in bed. Phichit takes the opportunity to change into a new sleeping shirt that isn't damp and covered in snot. By now it's close to six in the morning, and he knows he should try to get more sleep, but he doubts that's going to happen.
Instead, he gets up and checks on his hamsters, which are starting to have their morning fun, and makes breakfast, leaving some extra out for Yuuri for when he wakes up. Then he changes and heads to the rink. So Yuuri bombed his first GPF; maybe he can impress upon him later that it's not the end of the world. There's other events, and there's next year. Next year, Phichit tells himself, he'll make it there, too, and they'll both give Victor Nikiforov a reason to recognize their faces.
Detroit is boring without Yuuri and he doesn't call often enough, so after talking it over with Ciao Ciao, Phichit goes home. It's a shock, oddly, to go from having English all over the place to Thai. There are things he ends up missing about America – the winter snow, for example, always so pretty and magical even if it had to be so cold – but he's also glad to be back in many ways. For the first month or so, he slots in everything he can around his training schedule: meals with his family, helping his brothers with their English, sitting and listening to music with his sister after her boyfriend breaks up with her.
"Is this from that skating movie you liked so much?" she asks. "It sounds familiar."
"I'm going to be skating to this song this year. I've wanted to use it for a long time, and this season seemed like the time to do it." It's a cliché – how many people have skated to something from the soundtrack of The King and The Skater or its sequel, if only for themselves? Especially Shall we Skate? However, he's determined to do something new and different and all his own with it.
"When do we get to see it?"
The months fly swiftly past. Practice, dance lessons – soon it's competition season, and Phichit feels more confident in his abilities than he has in any year so far. And when assignments go out –
Thank goodness for the smaller difference in time zones now. That makes it much easier to call Yuuri. "I can't wait to see your program in real life," he says. "It's so different! That was Victor's idea, wasn't it."
"Mmhm," Yuuri says on the other side. Phichit imagines him blushing. It's still so strange – that Victor up and left for Japan after seeing Yuuri's viral video to coach him, and nobody seems to have figured out why. If Yuuri knows, he hasn't said anything about it. Maybe he's still in shock that his idol, who couldn't even recognize him a few months ago, showed up at his house to become his coach. "And thanks again for helping me with her email address. She redid the song for me, and I'm going to be using it."
"I want to see," Phichit whines, and Yuuri laughs.
"You finally have your chance to use Skate With Me in competition, right? I'm glad. It suits you."
When China rolls around, Phichit is happy to see Yuuri again – he looks well, much better than when Phichit saw him off in Detroit – and not only does he get to have a conversation with Victor Nikiforov, he gets to have a conversation with a drunk Victor. Who is all over Yuuri and all out of his clothes.
Yuuri scolds him, but he's not shrinking back at all. While contacting Leo to try and get a hold of Guang-hong so he can apologize to the restaurant staff on behalf of their coaches, Phichit stares and wonders if he's missed something. Once they got to know each other,Yuuri didn't mind the occasional selfie hug too much, or crying against him, but clinging like this – he'd shoved more than one person away at a party for less.
He doesn't get a good chance to talk with Yuuri that night, not with Ciao Ciao to pile into a cab while Yuuri deals with Victor, and after that there's no chance to talk by themselves. Phichit pushes it to the back of his mind for later; now, he has to focus on himself. He might not have the jumps that some of the others do, but he does have the dance he's learned since a small child and the catchy, beloved music to use it with.
So he skates, and sure, he falls, but there's an incredibly charged atmosphere to the rink that he's never felt at a competition before, and the music – this song that he's been singing along to since he was a kid, before he even knew English – it carries him through and just like that, he's pulled off a personal best.
It pumps him up even more for the free skate, where the crowd is cheering him on from the first movements. I'm going to become Thailand's future, he thinks as he starts, and the cheers only get louder. He can tell they want it, too, want to see him skate better than anyone, want to see him do what no-one else can do, want him representing his country for the first time at the GPF.
He gives them everything they, and he, want.
Afterward, once the excitement settles into relief and joy, he finds a screen backstage just in time to watch Yuuri come out, looking... odd. He's been crying. Since when has he ever cried before a competition? Stressed out, yes; gone either twitchy or focused, yes; worked himself up into a wreck, yes; but crying? Did Victor say something to him – heap even more pressure onto him – or did something else happen? His first thought is Victor's dog, but Victor doesn't look that upset, and it's his dog. What else could it be?
When he starts to skate, though, he doesn't look like someone who's cried from stress, and Phichit can feel himself relax as he watches, nervous about how well Yuuri might score but – he's already had his turn, and despite what Ciao Ciao said, he knows that he made it. Yuuri is beautiful to watch today, his movements calm and elegant, and when he pulls a quad flip at the end of his skate Phichit lets out a startled laugh. So it probably wasn't Victor that made him cry, then, he thinks as the music ends, not if this is the kind of influence that Victor has had on him.
(This is promptly confirmed about five seconds later when Victor tackles him into a kiss on the ice, the crowd screams again, and the camera lingers for a moment on the incredibly fond look that they share before tastefully cutting away. As long as Phichit has known him, Yuuri has never given anyone a look like that. Dinner the night before last makes a lot more sense.)
There's interviews, and then there's dinner, where Guang-hong is already breaking his vow not to use social media by checking Twitter on his phone and Phichit can't quite hear their conversation but he's pretty sure that Chris is trying to give Georgi advice on his love life. They trail back to the hotel at some point and stay up too late talking in the lobby, people calling it a night one-by-one.
At some point Victor runs off to take care of something, and Leo drags a sleepy Guang-hong up to his hotel room and never comes back, and suddenly it's the two of them. "You're going to win in Russia, right? I want to go to the GPF together," Phichit says, scooting closer to Yuuri.
"Victor's already telling everyone that I'm going to take gold there because I did the quad flip," Yuuri laughs, a bit breathless.
"Speaking of Victor, Yuuri," he says, turning his tone scolding. "You didn't tell me you were together! I'm hurt. And I was worried that he'd made you cry when I saw you getting on the ice."
"Oh, well, he did," Yuuri says absently, his head turning as someone comes from the direction Victor wandered off in – but it's a woman in a smart coat, not his wayward coach. When his head turns back, he must see the shocked expression Phichit is making, because he jumps a little and wave his hands. "It's okay! He just said something thoughtless, and I yelled at him for it, and I felt better afterward, so...."
"What did he say?" Something 'thoughtless'? Phichit can't even imagine what it could be. Then he remembers how Victor mistook Yuuri at last year's GPF, how hard Yuuri had cried, and the same anger he had felt for his friend then comes back.
"It's not important," he says. "I promise. He apologized right afterward. I don't think he'll say anything like that again. Anyway, he didn't seem to know what to do, so I started telling him about how you always helped me before, and then he helped me calm down, and then I was fine when I was skating."
He's peering at Phichit in that worried way of his, so Phichit reins in his thoughts of but that doesn't make it okay, whatever he said and he doesn't have the right to make you so upset and puts on a grin and says, instead, "Your own boyfriend didn't know to give you a hug?"
Yuuri flushes bright red. "He's not my boyfriend," he murmurs in a dropped voice, "or, well, now, we only just... that was the first time."
"Oh! So that's why you didn't tell me anything was going on."
Yuuri nods, a smile creeping back onto his lips. Phichit considers him for a minute of comfortable silence, how the smile drops off as he twists to look again and Victor still isn't there (where the hell is he?).
Yuuri's looked up to Victor for so long. If Victor breaks his heart....
"Well, I hope it all works out," he says. "You seem really happy lately, ever since he flew off to coach you. I thought it was just because who wouldn't be happy to have Victor coach them and he was your idol for so long, but you really like him, don't you."
He nods and opens his mouth, but before anything comes out, there's the sound of rapid footsteps. "Yuuri!" The next moment Victor is standing before them, his clothes rumpled from his rushing and hair out of order. "I'm sorry that took so long."
"It's fine," says Yuuri. The fond expression is back on his face – it's being mirrored by Victor – and his cheeks have gone pink again. "Phichit's good company."
But they surely want to be left alone now. "I should probably get some sleep before my flight." He leans over to hug Yuuri briefly before standing up and giving them both a cheery wave. "Good night!"
"Good night!" Yuuri calls after him. "And congratulations again."
"To you, too!"
He goes back to his room, and reads the excited text messages from his family and friends again, and looks at the comments on the selfies he posted before dinner that are full of congratulations, until his heart feels like it's going to beat out of his chest and his eyes are blurring from exhaustion.
As he wriggles under his blankets, trying to get comfortable, he happens to think of Yuuri and Victor again. The sudden kiss on the rink, the way Yuuri kept fidgeting while waiting for Victor to get back, the light in his face when he finally did return. If Yuuri's found happiness with him, then good; he deserves it.
And if he ends up sobbing in Phichit's arms again because Victor's broken his heart, there will be hell to pay.
..but hopefully that won't happen. Victor seems just as infatuated, and whatever he did to cheer Yuuri up worked. Maybe he's found the magic solution to his pre-skate anxiety that Ciao Ciao and Phichit spent four years looking for.
He finally gets his head arranged nicely on the weird hotel pillows and closes his eyes. Time to go to sleep; tomorrow he returns as a new hero of Thailand. There will be good food with his family and too many invitations, and then back to training so he can meet Yuuri in Barcelona with everything he has, and there will be no tears for anyone except those of joy.